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President and First Lady Lead Benefit for National Cultural Center

Nov. 30, 1962 - President and Mrs. Kennedy headed a cast of 100 last night in a closed-circuit show televised from five cities for the benefit of the National Cultural Center in Washington. The program was beamed to 75 cities in the U.S. and Canada. It started at 9:30 p.m. and lasted for 2 hours and 45 minutes. The show opened a $30 million fundraising campaign for the center, which is envisioned as the first effective home for the performing arts in the nation’s capital. Plans call for the center to open at the end of 1965 or early in 1966. In a brief talk, President Kennedy said that such writers as Jack London, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck were read widely in the Soviet Union, as were Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Pasternak in this country. “Thus today, as always, art knows no national boundaries.” Among those who appeared on the show were former President and Mrs. Eisenhower, Pablo Casals, Van Cliburn, Robert Frost, Fredric March, Danny Kaye, Bob Newhart, and Harry Belafonte. Leonard Bernstein was the master of ceremonies. The show originated live in the National Armory in Washington, the Americana Hotel in New York, McCormick Place in Chicago, the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, and the Augusta (Ga.) Country Club. President and Mrs. Kennedy appeared on the telecast from the National Armory.

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